The Los Angeles Dodgers’ shopping list is exceptionally long for a 111-win team this offseason. From the rotation to the back end of the bullpen to left field, the list of vacancies looms large — and you can add “Franchise Icon” to the list of available positions if Clayton Kershaw chooses to leave and Justin Turner gets jettisoned, too.
Amid the rubble, the Dodgers are going to have to craft a rotation for 2023 without Walker Buehler; he went under the knife too late in 2022 to have enough time to rehab and pull a Dustin May down the stretch.
In ’22, their solution without Buehler was to go all in on potential mid-rotation upside plays, and it worked nicely. Tyler Anderson carved up the NL and was named to the All-Star team, as was Tony Gonsolin. Andrew Heaney even worked out for a while, though he succumbed to injury and became a piggy-backer by the end of the season.
This time around, the Dodgers should have May built back up to a starter’s workload, and May/Kershaw/Julio Urías is a fairly star-studded top of the rotation if the team welcomes their Hall of Famer back. They’ll still need to take risks to fill the middle of the rotation with familiar upside plays either way. Anderson is rumored to want to stay home, though he’ll command a bigger contract next time around. Can Gonsolin be considered a rotation fixture, or rotation filler after he broke down late?
The Dodgers will need 1-2 more names beyond Anderson to feel secure, and they could revisit a familiar pipeline to fill out the back of their quintet. After flirting with international free agency for quite a while, Japanese ace Kodai Senga officially filed his paperwork this week, and could follow in the footsteps of Hideo Nomo, Kenta Maeda and, yes, Kaz Ishii if the Dodgers play their cards right.
Could Dodgers make play for Japanese ace Kodai Senga?
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the 30-year-old Senga is the prototypical Japanese starter, flashing exceptional numbers (1.94 ERA last season) along with a mid-90s fastball that plays up due to his reliance on a four-pitch mix.
In essence, you’ve seen him before. It’s worked before. He’ll be the most sought-after international name this offseason combined with a shallow American talent pool (deGrom, Rodón, then what?).
There’s rumored to be significant interest in Senga from the Chicago Cubs, who struck on Seiya Suzuki last offseason and swayed him away from several supposed contenders that were in play. Could the Dodgers flex their muscles, tout their legacy, and grab Senga away from the NL Central this offseason?
At the right price, the Dodgers should take a chance on Senga while hoping he’s more K-inducing than Kei Igawa.
If there’s any organization that can tout success in this market in the past, it’s the Dodgers, going on nearly 30 years now.